Research Articles Building Climate-Resilient Agri-Food Systems: How the CRISP tool empowers you to climate-proof your project

A new online tool for agricultural and food system development project planners and policy-makers ensures that they design projects that are climate resilient. The CRISP tool is a free and easy way to conduct a rapid climate risk assessment.

By: David Ngome 

Weather and climate are the main drivers of agricultural production and ecosystem services, but their variability and long-term changes are an ongoing source of disruption. These changes pose a significant threat to global food security, the sustainability of agri-food systems and the livelihoods of people across the world. In the rural areas of developing countries, the effects of climate change are particularly severe and increasingly visible. Smallholder farmers often lack the resources and infrastructure to respond appropriately to the changing environment and climatic conditions.

In this increasingly challenging reality, adaptation is more necessary than ever before. Many national government agencies collaborate with research and development organizations to design solutions and tools to address the adverse effects of climate-related risks. To contribute to their efforts, the Alliance and Eurac Research - with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) - developed the Climate Risk Planning & Managing Tool for Development Programmes in Agri-Food Systems (CRISP).  

CRISP is a free, web-based tool designed to mainstream climate-risk considerations and science-based adaptation options into agri-food project design and implementation. It equips project managers, policymakers, funders, researchers, and the private sector with the knowledge and resources to boost adaptation, strengthen resilience and protect food security and livelihoods in the face of climate change. 

According to Dr. Osana Bonilla-Findji - one of the members of the CRISP team - the objective of the tool is to entrench climate action in all agri-food sector projects and innovations, as well as provide ways for practitioners to develop science-based adaptation hypotheses and effectively promote context-specific adaptation options.  

“We designed CRISP to ‘climate proof’ traditional agri-food systems projects. We wanted to provide the practitioners with a tool to easily mainstream climate risk considerations into their projects – from planning and designing through to implementation. This way, they can operationalize urgent evidence-based adaptation action” says Dr. Bonilla-Findji. 

CRISP: Enabling Climate-Smart Agriculture and Food Systems 

The CRISP tool provides a robust framework for a climate risk assessment, including the identification of the drivers and their cause-effect relationships. By gathering information from publications that have analyzed climatic data, crop suitability models, and socio-economic factors, CRISP enables users to identify the specific climate hazards that pose the greatest risk to their projects and target regions. It reveals the impacts on the agri-food sector and assesses the vulnerability of these systems, taking into account factors such as exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.

Once users have identified relevant hazards, impacts and vulnerabilities, CRISP guides them through the review of potential adaptation strategies. The CRISP tool offers a repository of evidence-based adaptation options, ranging from crop diversification and water-management techniques to climate-resilient infrastructure and early warning systems. These options are carefully curated to address specific climate impacts and vulnerabilities, ensuring that adaptation efforts are targeted and effective. 

The web-based tool offers different features like interactive impact chains in a graph and table view, which can be downloaded as a report. It also provides a user guide, tutorial videos and links to additional resources. 

The CRISP Tool in Use 

In 2023, a team under the German-Bolivian technical cooperation conducted a project-planning mission for the new GIZ program PRORESILIENTE. They used CRISP to rapidly review the main climatic hazards at a regional scale, identifying the impacts and current vulnerabilities of the targeted agroecosystems to develop a rapid climate risk assessment. This risk assessment was used to design the project activities and incorporate additional adaptation measures. Using CRISP helped create a strong climate rationale for the program, covering the enabling policy environment, climate investments and inclusivity by considering vulnerability and resilience.  

Commenting on using the CRISP tool, Carlos Saavedra from the PRORESILIENTE team said,

“We can say that CRISP was very useful for identifying and including these additional adaptation activities. CRISP provided us with a strong climate narrative rationale and solid evidence to include additional adaptation measures in the project.”

Saavedra added that applying CRISP was a useful first step in supporting the integration of climate risk in national agricultural programs and in supporting the implementation of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for the agri-food sector. 

By mainstreaming climate risk into project planning and implementation, CRISP empowers stakeholders to make informed decisions, build resilience, and ensure food security in the face of climate change. 

Resources and Acknowledgement 

learn more about CRISP and its Functionalities

Applying the CRISP tool in Bolivia and Zambia: How to identify climate risks and adaptation options in agricultural and food systems projects

CRISP Users’ guide  

The CRISP-Tool was developed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Eurac Research and the Free University of Bolzano/Bozen